Moonlight

Moonlight

After the Oscar debacle, I knew I had to see Moonlight. I mean, it’s obvious that I loved La La Land from my review, but I’m so unbelievably glad that Moonlight stole the title of Best Picture. It was much more deserving.

And no, this is not the case simply because the film has an all black cast. It is not the case simply because it is a LGBTQ+ film. It is not for any political reason whatsoever. The film was just damn good.


Moonlight is split into three chapters: Little, Chiron and Black. Each chapter features the main character, Chiron (nicknamed Little and Black), at a different stage in his life. Three different actors appeared in each chapter: Alex R. Hibbert played Little, Ashton Sanders as Chiron and Trevante Rhodes played Black. However, what I find most compelling is (according to IMDb) no actor was allowed to see another actor perform. I told my boyfriend when leaving the cinema that I was impressed how each actor could replicate the same attitude and mannerisms, but this apparently is not the case. Each actor was allowed to show the character in a way they imagined him to be, and this resulted in something beautiful and, what I had thought, was completely planned. 

Furthermore, in some cases, editing can be sticky and jarring if a story is laid out like this one. I felt Barry Jenkins was able to deal with these changes effortlessly and no aspect of the film was compromised.

The acting also blew me away. There is a particularly heartbreaking scene from Hibbert when he asks what a “faggot” is. This scene was so raw and beautifully performed that I truly hope the young man keeps acting for years to come.


But it wasn’t just Hibbert that touched my heart. Like I said before, each actor was able to capture exactly what the character needed. Support actors and actresses were also stunning – especially Naomie Harris. I personally believe she should have just won Best Actress regardless of the fact she’s not a starring role. She’s much better than plateauing Emma Stone.

Overall, Moonlight was a touching story about masculinity and sexuality. During one scene I found myself cringing and wriggling uncomfortably in my seat. I took a moment to ask myself why. Why was this film confusing me? Then, I realised.

Moonlight shows no stereotype of homosexuality. In so many different medias we are greeted with flamboyant, camp, feminine and physically weak gay men. The romances we are usually faced with are relationships featuring a couple much like a heterosexual couple: one very camp whereas the other is more masculine. The constant question is asked, “Who’s the man in the relationship? Who’s the girl?” It took me a moment but I realised the reason I was having trouble digesting what I was watching was because I simply wasn’t used to seeing this kind of portrayal. These men were tough, strong and incredibly masculine. This was the root of so many problems for our character and I felt myself struggle to understand along with him. 


So, no, this film didn’t win simply because the 2016 Oscars was too white. It won because it is moving, the cinematography is beautiful and the acting is above and beyond whatever La La Land could throw at you.

There, I said it.

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The Full Monty

The Full Monty

I have never seen the film The Full Monty (well, apart from the first 10 minutes we watched in class) but I knew the basic plot, I had heard the stories, I could guess what would happen from the title, but I was going in with no expectations.

Well, except from the fact my family thought we were going to see the musical of The Full Monty.

It was, in fact, not the musical version. I realised this at the intermission when there had not been a single burst of musical performance. It was then that my mother had to explain to myself and my cousin (who also was also a Full Monty virgin) it was not what we had initially thought. The show that we were seeing was basically the movie rewritten for the stage. I wasn’t complaining, though. It was still a fantastic night.


Every actor involved blew me away. The majority of their credits are from TV or film so to be equally as good on stage is impressive. Some actors can’t do both, but these guys could. Especially Kai Owen who played Dave. He stole the show for me.

However, I would have loved it if the actors connected with the audience more. I know The Full Monty is not a pantomime, but the woman sitting on the far left of me obviously thought it was. Maybe she had one too many from the bar before the curtains rose, or maybe she was unaware how loud her remarks were, but the one liners she announced to the room completely made the show what it was for me. Her commentary was hilarious and it would have made my night if one of the actors reacted to it. I understand that this may not suit the kind of production that The Fully Monty is, but if your tour dares to venture to Glasgow – you better be prepared for those Glasgow women. 

Especially those that have had a drink.


The stage design was beautiful thanks to Robert Jones. It never changed throughout the entirety of the show but it didn’t matter. The actors would casually rearrange the boxes and scrapyard junk while on stage in order to set up the next scene which was determined by lighting changes (thanks to Tim Lutkin). These subtle changes were so simple yet worked extremely well.

The aspect of the show that really touched my heart was the reaction from the audience. It didn’t matter if the man was “too thin”, “too fat” or “too old” – the woman (and some gents) surrounding me cheered them on all the same. In a society where men believe they have to have the same amount of muscle mass as Thor, have cheekbones chiselled like Tom Hiddleston and be tall and pouting like so many models on magazine covers, it was unbelievably refreshing to know that so many women don’t feel the same. It felt like a statement was being screamed from all around me: “you are beautiful to someone.”

Also: “Get your willy out!” 


Us Glasgow women like a laugh after all.

So, if you like the film of The Fully Monty, you will love the stage show. The atmosphere in the theatre is electric and, like my cousin said, you won’t laugh like that again for a while.

And to anyone wondering, yes they did go the full monty. I saw a little too much of some performers and not quite enough of Gary Lucy. 

Mad to be Normal: Glasgow Film Festival 2017, Closing Gala

Mad to be Normal: Glasgow Film Festival 2017, Closing Gala

It was the 9th of January.

A grey, crisp morning sat outside my front window. But I was not paying attention. My phone screen had my eyes glued to it. My father tried to make early morning chit-chat. He received none in return.

Refresh refresh refresh.

Sweat was forming on my forehead but there was no time to wipe it off. I barked orders at my father to join in my quest. On my iPad I kept constant contact with my friend as we were both in this together. If we both fail, it’s all over.

Then, the worst happened.

SOLD OUT.

My heart sunk to my stomach. I looked up at my ceiling with betrayal, curse words forming at my lips, my father trying to comfort me, but it wasn’t enough. I had failed.

Then, I got the message from my friend.

I GOT THE TICKETS!

And with that, we were on our way to see Mad to Be Normal – the closing gala of Glasgow Film Festival 2017 – on the 26th of February.


We were nearly late but we made it.

The red carpet was laid out in front of the GFT’s entrance. Giddy young girls flashed their phones and squealed as David Tennant took pictures with them. I saw the back of his head. It was enough to quench my inner fangirl. 

Once into the GFT (through the side entrance) we were given a free drink: a whiskey cocktail in a small plastic bottle. I had a sip but took the rest home with me. I wasn’t going to turn down something free.

Then, on each seat, there sat a bag of popcorn. After paying £15 per ticket, I was feeling a bit better about the price.

Sadly the only cinema we could get tickets for was Cinema 2. However the GFT had a camera in Cinema 1 (where all the stars of the movie sat along with various other VIPs) so live footage was relayed to us. We were successfully kept in the loop and I couldn’t fault the organisers for that.

However, don’t ask me to clap for ScotRail. Are you kidding?

After a few thank-yous, a short speech from director Robert Mullan, and a hyper speel from David Tennant that made me fall in love with him even more, the movie began.


Instantly I wasn’t impressed. The titles seemed tacky and unprofessional to me. It only got worse when text appeared on the screen to tell me, “the sixties.” I initially thought this was because the time period would constantly change during the film but no other titles appeared stating a time period change. Furthermore, why have a title telling the audience where a particular scene is set? Just show them! It’s in Glasgow? Show a Glasgow landmark. They’re now in New York? Show something constantly associated with New York! That’s the beauty of film; you don’t need to tell the audience anything – just show them.

Furthermore, I felt the editing and transitions between scenes was sticky. I believe it was to show the mental state of the characters involved but seeing the screen fade to black only to quickly jump to another scene made the film feel amateur. Yet I did like the merging of archive footage with the film. Usually I hate this creative choice but for this film it worked perfectly and I wish they had used it more.

Putting the editing aside, I don’t have much to complain about this film. I mean, who can fault David Tennant? My boyfriend pointed out that while his initial introduction to the character was highly believable, it seemed like his commitment to the character fizzled out very quickly. This was possibly because footage of R D Laing is limited and the footage that is easy to find is from interviews where he stutters and takes long breaths.


However, after doing some research on the famous psychiatrist, I found an article the BBC wrote from Dr Laing’s son’s point of view. Adrian Laing was not impressed with Mad to Be Normal and even goes as far to state that he “doesn’t recognise” his father. After looking into R D Laing for myself, I discovered that his love interest, Angie (Elisabeth Moss) and colleague/good friend, Paul (Adam Paul Harvey) in the movie actually do not exist. History paints quite a different picture which I find highly disappointing. I would rather be told of the truth – or, at most, a highly exaggerated version of the truth.

Yet, I fail to find someone who can nail emotional scenes like Tennant. No one can make me cringe less than him during scenes that could easily turn into a cliche or hard to watch. He can easily break my heart with one voice break. Even if that’s not how it really happened.

“I helped bring you into this world, I’ll help you out of it.” 

Tears. I felt the script was very believable. It had the right mix of drama and comedy to keep me interested. But, seriously, what is it with people laughing at swearing? Is it a millennial thing to not be phased by a f-bomb anymore? 
Overall, I don’t have much to say. I can’t say I adored the film, and I wasn’t blown away, but I also didn’t hate it and would watch it again. I was mostly intrigued. There is no doubting that Dr Laing is a fascinating man. The way that the film was pitched to me, I expected more detail to be told of his studies into LSD and the film would revolve around this. However, it mostly focused on Dr Laing himself and how he dealt with controversy, family and work. After finding out that this is apparently incorrect, it only makes me more intrigued.


Maybe this was the purpose of the film, maybe it was not. Overall, I believe if you have the power to portray someone’s life on screen you should do it as accurately as possible in order to honour them. For example: Hacksaw Ridge

Although the film itself was interesting and compelling to watch, I have to admit it lost a lot of respect from me when I realised characters I sympathised with were merely fictional. My main advice? Take this Ronnie Laing as a character and not as a historical figure. 

Manchester By The Sea (2016)

Manchester By The Sea (2016)

After agreeing with my boyfriend that we would not buy each other Valentine’s Day presents, you can imagine my guilt when I open the boot of his car to find a bouquet of roses. So, a trip to the cinema was due.

I knew nothing of this film. I hadn’t seen a single trailer, read a single review or heard any of my classmates talk about it. I had no expectations (apart from award winning acting from Casey Affleck) so I was diving straight into the deep end completely blind.

From a filmmaking point of view – I’m impressed. I felt the overall story was realistic, written perfectly to convey this realism, and the characters held up this theme expertly. 

The theme of the film was grief and loss. Affleck’s character Lee is forced to return to his home town to take care of his nephew. This town holds many demons for him and the film revolves around exposing his past. Sometimes I feel the theme of a film can be debated but during Kenneth Lonergan’s script it seemed obvious. He handed the delicate subject with ease and not once did I cringe at forced and unrealistic dialogue.


I feel this is what I admired most about Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. During the usual scenes you see in melodramas, the dialogue can get samey, cringey and ultimately boring – we see and hear it too much. “I’m sorry for your loss” – etc. However, what Lonergan does to get around this is mute the scene and replace it with dramatic music. The emotional plinks from the piano tell the audience everything they need to know without patronising them with simple dialogue. I personally found this extremely refreshing.

Yet, don’t get me wrong, the dialogue that we do hear is fantastically written too. The relationship between Lee and Lucas Hedges’ character Patrick is beautifully touching to watch. Their characters are so real and raw that I can’t help but soak up the acting and atmosphere. I am willing to make the claim that these are the best formed characters in cinema I have seen this year – and probably last year too. I’m so unbelievably happy that Affleck nicked the title of best actor from Ryan Gosling because he truly and utterly deserves it.


However, taking out all of the technical critiques, taking my filmmaking head off for a moment, I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed with Manchester By The Sea. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for a drama and wanted more of an escapist film like action but I left the cinema wishing I had rather stayed in.

After sitting on this review for nearly a week now, I’ve come to the conclusion that the film was just too real for me. Although I can admire things and understand creative decisions, I’m only human and I want a happy ending. I understand why the film ended the way it did but it just wasn’t what I wanted to see. I wanted growth from the characters, a sense that things have changed, some closure that Lee was okay. But I was left feeling empty. I wanted something more.

Furthermore, I feel a film as instantly failed if you are aware of time passing when watching it. More than once I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable, bottom falling asleep, and wondering how long I had been stuck in the dark. Even my boyfriend admitted there was no need for it to be over 2 hours long.


Overall, I feel this is a film I would love to study in my uni class as I would have so much to say, but, inevitably, I would not watch it again for pure enjoyment. Sometimes life doesn’t have a happy ending but I would at least like to pretend.

So maybe next Valentine’s Day I’ll just make sure I get my boyfriend something. 

Double Review: Split vs Hacksaw Ridge

Double Review: Split vs Hacksaw Ridge


After a full day of university, all I wanted to do was go home for a cuddle with my boyfriend. However, he had other plans.

A double bill at the cinema.

And you may be wondering what connects these two films. It could be their use of hand held footage, point of view shots, or good acting, but truth be told, the only connection was the fact myself and my boyfriend couldn’t decide what film we would prefer to see. So we watched both.

Let’s begin with Split.


I’m glad we saw this film first. It seemed to be a child’s film compared to Hacksaw Ridge and if we had seen that first I think it would have been a long night. 

When the trailer for Split first dropped, I knew I didn’t want to see it. I knew straight away I wouldn’t be impressed and I would leave knowing I could have wrote a much better script. And, yes, I did leave feeling that way but I was tricked by the many critics on Twitter. “That ending! The twist!” they would write. I felt I may have been too harsh in my initial thoughts, so finally gave into the pressure and witnessed Split for myself.

The acting was impressive by most individuals. Anya Taylor-Joy is an ever growing talent and good things are only going to come from her. Haley Lu Richardson also impressed me with her realist character, however Jessica Sula let the girls down. To be fair, she has much less acting experience than her peers but her character was entirely unbelievable. Much like, in my opinion, James McAvoy. I knew from the trailer that this film would have agents fighting over the main character as it could easily show the full potential of their client – and truth be told, McAvoy was impressive. However, I just wish that the different personalities that he was given were more interesting. The three main personalities the audience meet are Dennis (who is utterly boring), Patricia (who is equally poor) and Hedwig (who is just uncomfortable to watch). These parts are incredibly different to anything McAvoy has performed before but I’m not certain if this is for the better.

Warning, spoilers in the next paragraph!


I’ve heard many people complaining about this film. It puts mental illness in a bad light, it isn’t realistic and it makes these disorders seem like superpowers. And, on some level, I do agree. I’m not entirely sure if I understood the end of the film, but in my opinion, it seemed to say that self harm and abuse makes a person beautiful. The main female lead was “broken” and “pure”. I felt I was being told that you are only worth something if you have something tragic in your past or have suffered. This, in my opinion, is such a strange justification for characters’ motives and drive. Also, what if Casey didn’t have any marks on her body to prove that she was abused and “broken”? She still has a tragic past but she has no proof of it. Is she any less broken if she has no physical proof? 

Furthermore, I felt cheated. The end of this film makes no sense if you have not seen Unbreakable (2000). It was like M. Night Shyamalan had tricked us all to watch a new and exciting movie when, in reality, he was just setting up for another film. It felt like a spin-off villan’s backstory that failed to make any real impression on the audience. 

To put it simply: I’m glad my boyfriend payed for it so I didn’t have to.

Now onto Hacksaw Ridge.


The opening to this film completely let it down. I failed to see the importance of seeing Desmond Doss’ childhood with his brother. There was no need for it as the reason for Doss not touching a gun or being violent was revealed later in the film. Furthermore, starting with the battlefield, then to cut back 18 years or so, then to only flash forward 16 years again, it was completely unnecessary and ruined the flow of the film.

However, this is possibly the only problem I have with the film. Mel Gibson did a fantastic job creating Doss’ story. After the opening blunder, I was lured into a false sense of security. There was Doss, an adorably awkward young man, who is painfully smitten by his true love, Dorothy. It started as if it was a love story – Doss leaving for the army and promising to come back safe. It was ticking all the boxes for a hormonal teenage girl. 

Then, Doss arrives at the army training camp. Vince Vaughn does a fantastic job at being the strict yet hilarious Sergeant Howell. I found myself giggling, smiling and slowly being drawn in by the film’s charm.

And then, BOOM.


Literally, boom. I felt how the young men must have felt. Being told of the war through rose tinted glasses, being made to feel immortal in their uniforms, having a laugh at camp then, boom. The battlefield. Much like Saving Private Ryan (1998), Gibson doesn’t hold back. Within the first few beats of the battlefield scene I had already witnessed people loose legs, intestines and brains. I was physically repulsed by the action and I think this is what the film achieves the most. It truly shows the horror and makes you feel the emotions which is amplified for Doss as he has no weapon to defend himself with.

Yet, I felt the film was trying to make me feel angry towards the Japanese. When they surrendered (which shouldn’t be a spoiler, cause like, history) I didn’t feel a sense of victory. The war was so utterly brutal, with both sides loosing hundreds of men, being slaughtered as if they were nothing but numbers. I merely felt relieved when the Japanese surrendered because it meant I could finally stop holding in my tears and relax.

Obviously this film is based on true story and is never 100% accurate (I mean, Doss was a cool guy but no one kicks a grenade though), but what touched me the most was to see footage of the real Desmond Doss at the end of the film. To finally see the man himself was a beautiful end to such a full on, heavy film. Hearing him describe some of the events in the movie was also a fantastic element. Overall, there couldn’t have been a better ending.


You may have guessed that Hacksaw Ridge was my favourite out of the two films. Hacksaw Ridge started with an advantage though as it is a true story and absolutely anyone can be inspired by Desmond Doss. As a Christian, I found myself in awe of this man who has so much faith in God – so much so that he went into battle without a gun to protect himself. That is something I know not every believer would do.

But it’s not just Christians this film inspires. My boyfriend who has no relationship with the church or God was left stunned with Doss’ bravery. The unbelievable faith that one individual can have in an invisible force is mind blowing and I believe everyone is left speechless after this film.

So, in conclusion, if you are faced with a similar decision as myself and my boyfriend, don’t spend all your money – just go for Hacksaw Ridge instead.

T2: Trainspotting 

I’ve put off writing this review for a week now. And, to be honest, I still don’t want to write it.


Let me start this off by saying: I finally understand. All those people who groan every time another Disney or Pixar sequel comes out – I get it, I finally get it. What is the need for a sequel if it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger? If it doesn’t have any unanswered questions? If the audience is incredibly satisfied with the original film?

Well, money would be the answer, but I’m here to critique the movie, not the motives behind it.

So Trainspotting 2. T2. Danny Boyle is back with his iconic hit – along with all of the original cast which I found fantastic. It wouldn’t be Trainspotting without them so I’m glad they all returned to the story.

All the parts were there in order to make a beautiful film. However, I was left disappointed. When I came home, over a week ago now, my mother asked me, “So how was it?” sounding about as sceptical as I had felt. And I replied, “Very okay.”

I wish I felt the same as many of my peers because, the truth is, the majority of the audience enjoyed it. However, “not as much as the first one” they’re all quick to add.

And maybe that’s my problem. The first film is held on such a high pedestal that anything compared is utter nonsense. My friend told me that she loved T2 because it gave an update on the characters. It’s aim wasn’t to be better than the original – it was simply to show what happened. 

However, I feel it could’ve been done much better.


Trainspotting 2 felt like a tribute. Danny Boyle reused shots, editing techniques and threw in so many Easter eggs. It felt incredibly overdone. I mean, although the newly updated “Choose Life” speech was impressive and beautifully performed by McGregor, the way it was set up seemed forced and false. It was as if Boyle and John Hodge (screenwriter) had a checklist and were simply ticking off everything they needed to include. It stopped feeling like a film and simply became a tribute act.

I understand the film was about nostalgia. The use of old home footage made that obvious. I understand it was about old versus new. The use of mobile phone footage and CCTV cameras made that extremely apparent. I understand those who saw the original movie in the cinemas way back in 1996 will be taken back to their youth. My mother read the book and still remembers when it first came out. I understand how fantastic it must have felt to finally include the scene where it explains the film’s title. But to me it didn’t matter. If you’re going to make a sequel to Trainspotting you need to make it it’s own movie. Seeing the characters wasn’t nearly enough. 

Furthermore, I felt the acting from a few individuals dipped. At some points, I felt Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy) slipping into his usual character of Sherlock Holmes. I felt Spud’s (Ewen Bremner) expressions were completely exaggerated for the majority of the film, and although humorous, it was not needed. However, Robert Carlyle and Ewan McGregor will never fail to impress me.


But, side note, did anyone else find it unnerving when characters were referred to by their Sunday name? 

As my boyfriend pointed out, T2 offered no hope. In the first one, Renton’s character ended the film with the statement, “The truth is that I’m a bad person. But, that’s gonna change – I’m going to change.” However, Renton didn’t change. He still is a bad person. Although this may be an accurate representation of human nature, I felt deflated at the closing credits. Like my friend said earlier, she wanted an update on the characters but, when the update is disappointing, I would rather not have it at all.

However, don’t get me wrong. I found myself getting caught up in the action and enjoying myself around half an hour in. I found moments in the story to be endearing, certain scenes were incredibly hilarious and, I have to admit, it was nice to have the gang back together. I just believe it could have been much more iconic.

But maybe I’m just picky. I will still choose the original Trainspotting

Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour

Glitz, glamour, humour, talent (sometimes questionable) and the wow factor – Strictly has it all. 2017 marked the year of the tour’s tenth anniversary and it did not disappoint.

The show’s layout is identical to the television show so if you’re a super fan like myself and my mother then I cannot recommend it enough. There’s something mesmerising about seeing the dances in person rather than through the screen. Some may argue and say that for the money they paid they want to see new dances – not just the ones you can now watch on the BBC Strictly YouTube page – but each dance is improved for the tour. Each couple can have an ensemble of dancers plus a much larger playing field to dance on. Plus, hearing live music will always change the atmosphere instantly. Therefore it is still a breathtaking experience as you can witness the true Strictly magic first hand.

And, since I’m certain my boyfriend will not be reading this review, who wouldn’t want to see Danny Mac’s samba in the flesh?


I mean…


Wouldn’t you?

As usual, in true Strictly fashion, the costumes were stunning. I think the total number of sequins used is more than the population of Scotland. Plus the props, the lighting, hair and makeup were as perfect as ever.

Plus if you’re a “man’s man” and the thought of being dragged to see Strictly with your wife or girlfriend is turning you green then don’t worry! There’s fire effects!

All jokes aside, I have to congratulate Strictly for welcoming all ages, genders and sexualities into their audience. True, the vast majority of viewers are women – older women to be honest – but there is something to be admired in its popularity with such a wide range of individuals.


This year marks the sixth time my mother and I have witnessed the Strictly magic in the flesh and it is by far my favourite. I can’t tell if the production was bigger, or if I simply liked the contestants better, or the dancing in general was more moving, but the one thing I know for sure is that I will never ever forget Craig Revel Horwood performing Gangnam Style in a kilt.

I wish I had a photograph, I really do.

Speaking of photographs, may I take your time to complain about the use of mobile phones at live performances. (If you do not care for my rant, please skip past the next image or check out my review of La La Land here).

I understand that many viewers want to take a picture to remember the moment. I understand they want to be able to show their friends and family and make them feel varying degrees of jealousy. But, please, if you’re going to take pictures, turn off your flash? For one; it’s annoying, and for two; it’s just going to bounce off of everyone’s heads and make what you actually want to photograph stay in darkness. Trust me – I’m a millennial.

Furthermore, do not then sit and update your status on Facebook while the performance continues. I am certain you can wait until the show finishes – or even at the interval – where you can hashtag as many sayings as you want. Trust me – I’m a millennial.

Anyway, moving on.


Something that differentiated the 2017 tour was “Len’s favourite dances.” Just after the phone lines had closed (and 10p went to Children in Need) they played some clips from series past. This was a nice touch – especially from Len since it was his last time on Strictly. It definitely got a laugh from the crowd and fond smiles were brought to many faces.

Anita Rani hosted this year’s tour and she did a good job keeping the show flowing. To be honest, I didn’t warm to her when she was a contestant however I didn’t let this put me off. And, luckily, I found her quite endearing while hosting. 


Halfway through the first act, a strange thought popped into my head. Why does this entertain me? Why does a person moving their body this way and that tug at my heartstrings? Why does someone holding their voice at different pitches make a tear come to my eye? Why when put together do I feel a smile beam from my face? It’s the question I’m sure my boyfriend and father continuously ask as both my mother and I sit ignoring them on Saturday nights. But I can’t explain it. I’ve often said I’m born in the wrong era but I thank Strictly for bringing a beautiful form of art into my life.

And also Giovanni.


Thank you Strictly!